How Do I Get Started Building My Technical Portfolio?
For software engineers and developers applying for jobs, their portfolio is perhaps the most critical part of the application. Much like artist or designer portfolios, it’s an opportunity to show talent and skills to recruiters. So this article focuses on how to create a tech portfolio. Unfortunately, only 2 percent of applicants make it to the interview stage, according to one expert. In other words, it’s all about standing out from the pool of applicants.
One surefire way to do that is to present a wholesome portfolio that suits the applicant’s strengths and shows recruiters different projects they have undertaken. The best tech portfolio offers the professional background, interests, and tech stack without having an overwhelming amount of work to view. For front-end developers, how the portfolio is present may matter as well. While there are platforms for portfolios, it’s best to have a website as a portfolio as a developer. This is beneficial for two reasons. First, it looks professional, and secondly, it would be much easier to share the portfolio with recruiters.
With that said, we can divide making a solid and impressive tech portfolio into three steps:
1. Building The Portfolio Website
When it comes to creating a website for a tech portfolio, there are two options. Either you can use a website builder or create your own from scratch. Of course, the latter option is time-consuming, but it can be a great way to showcase some technical skills, especially if you’re a web developer.
There’s no harm in going with a website builder and using a template because most recruiters would be interested in the projects.
Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, and Duda are reliable portfolio website builder options.
Alternatively, you can download a free template from HTML 5UP and play with it to meet your needs.
Pro Tip: If you’re building the website from scratch and need some design inspiration, check out the templates from the website builders.
Pay Attention to Design and Navigation
Portfolio websites for web developers should have seamless navigation. Even if you’re a different type of developer, pay attention to the navigation and overall design of the website.
A website with poor navigation may be a red flag for a recruiter, especially one who may not be so tech-savvy.
The best practice would be to have a moving navigation bar at the top of the website. That way, the visitor has all the options available and doesn’t get lost. Also, if there are several linked pages within the portfolio, make sure to use breadcrumbs so that the visitor can trace their way back to the homepage.
Get a Professional Domain
With your website coding and design out of the way, it’s time to publish it, and for that, you need a domain name.
Ideally, it would help if you went for a domain name that’s your name with an extension such as .com, .co, or .dev. However, if the domain name you’re after (your name) is not available, get something close to it.
Don’t use aliases or something that sounds unprofessional.
2. Writing The Profile
The design and the projects may highlight the tech portfolio, but many recruiters are also interested in knowing who you are as a person and professional. The bio on your website is for that!
There should be an ‘About’ section with your bio. This is something you should write yourself, but if you’re not great with words, you can also seek help from a copywriter.
What should the bio/profile include?
- Your past and present education (degree, certifications, courses, etc.)
- Your past and present professional experience (for example, job or coding internship)
- Any current project you want to highlight
- Your field of interest
- A brief description of your skills and tech stack
The bio should be brief and sound professional but, at the same time, not sound too technical (your work will cover that).
Social Media Links
Another important aspect of your profile is social media profiles. Adding links to social media accounts, mainly LinkedIn, is essential. According to a CareerBuilder survey, 70 percent of recruiters use social media to screen applicants. So an employer might also be interested in seeing your LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter profile.
It’s OK if you share or post memes on your social media; you should still include the links on your portfolio website. Again, the website footer is the best place to have these embedded into the icons.
Developers with an active presence and work on GitHub should also link their GitHub profiles.
Anyone visiting your website should be able to contact you. Make sure to add your email or contact number, either at the bottom or on a separate ‘Contact’ page.
3. Add Projects
As a developer, you’re likely proud of all your projects and want to show them. However, the truth is that most recruiters don’t spend a lot of time on applications. Therefore, you need to add your best work.
Now, this varies according to the applicant’s focus area and expertise. For instance, you should showcase applications you have built or contributed to if you’re an app developer.
Here’s what you can consider adding:
Personal/Open Source Projects
If you don’t have much professional experience, developing your own projects or contributing to open source projects is a viable way to develop and show your skills. Any such projects can be included on the portfolio website.
If you have taken coding boot camps at a coding school, you can also add those projects to the projects part of the website.
The way you present these projects depends on the projects. Whitepapers, screenshots, descriptions, or links to code can be used.
You can present projects you have contributed to professionally, whether as an employee or freelancer. Please talk about the project and describe your role in it. You can also add links to the actual project, for example, a website or mobile application.
You don’t need to attach or link the code for such projects.
Any group projects, personal or professional, should also be included. Many recruiters are interested in how applicants fare working in teams. Including a project that you collaborated on with others is a way to emphasize your teamwork skills.
Include those in the portfolio if you’ve written blogs or articles or any other technical write-up. While this isn’t necessary, adding something like a technical blog article can impress recruiters and show them your knowledge and involvement in the tech community.
What Makes a Strong Technical Portfolio?
To sum it up, a strong tech portfolio should:
- Include your best projects (preferably five to six).
- Show variety in terms of skill, scope, and use cases.
- Be a reflection of your personal and professional journey and future goals.
- Be simple enough to navigate but not too dull either.
- Be up to date with most projects from within the past two years.
- Finally, have appropriate links to other public profiles, blogs, and a call-to-action.
Take the following steps and start coding!
Recruitment for tech talent is at an all-time high, which means there are loads of opportunities for developers and designers. However, competition is also challenging, with many applicants vying for suitable positions in tech firms and startups. A comprehensive and robust portfolio can be the key to landing your dream job or project.
No matter how great you present your work, for most recruiters, skills matter the most.
If you want to build up your technical portfolio, join LEARN academy for our next Build Your First Website webinar, where you will leave with a newly built website you can use as a start to your portfolio.